The ancient Mayan city of Tulum

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what motivates people to travel. For some it’s discovery and an opportunity to interact with new cultures. For many others though, it’s the chance to escape the daily routine and venture into the truly exotic. Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is one of the few places that can offer both opportunities AND is an easy trip to make.

The Yucatan and the Riviera Maya are a traveler’s dream. If you love history and archeology like I do, this area offers a veritable treasure trove of opportunities to step back in time. One of my favorite side trips is a tour of Tulum, located in the heart of the Mexican Riviera.

The entrance to Tulum

One enters the Tulum compound through a small doorway and is immediately confronted with an expansive field, dotted with buildings and temples. A walk through these formidable relics is an amazing opportunity to gain a glimpse into what life was like for the original Mayan inhabitants. The heart of the community though is the coastal temple, facing the Caribbean and serving as a beacon, just as it did hundreds of years ago. Tulum is an easy trip from almost all of the Riviera Mayan hotels and is a not to miss site.

In addition to Tulum, modern culture is abundant throughout the Yucatan, especially in the restaurants of Playa del Carmen.

Typically known as a party town and a hotspot for young revelers, Playa has recently benefited from an influx of new residents who have brought some innovative and original culinary points of view with them.

A sunset in the Riviera Maya

One of my favorite trendy, new restaurants in Playa is Ula-Gula, located on 5th Ave between 10th & 12th Streets. The Ula-Gula menu is an eclectic fusion of Japanese and traditional Mexican food. The owners have a real commitment to freshness and locally sourced foods, as best exemplified in their fresh fruit martinis - the watermelon was my favorite.

For a real culinary adventure in the Yucatan though, a not to miss event is the Taste of Playa, this year taking place on November 21st.

Taste of Playa is a community based culinary festival set in the heart of the Riviera Maya. With inspiration drawn from the dreams of several local business owners, this event was conceived as a way to celebrate the extraordinary talents of chefs and restaurateurs who have chosen Playa del Carmen as their home and establish the Riviera Maya as a world class culinary destination. Although I won’t be able to fly down, it promises to be an amazing event.

Ultimately, this is why I love the Riviera Maya so much - for the unique ability of its ancient and modern history not only to coexist, but to thrive.



About the Author

Matt-Tortoise-200x300Matthew Long, Editor-in-Chief and creator of , has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to do it all on a budget. Matt is a Lonely Planet Featured Blogger, as well as a contributor to many other travel sites. Matt’s new eBook Money Saving Travel Tips is an essential guide to traveling well and affordably. Contact Matt at


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Yucatan Holidays


14 Responses to “Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula – Something for Everyone”

  1. Anna Spitzer

    Taste of Playa it is a community based culinary festival set in the heart of the Riviera Maya.

  2. Sue-Helen

    Love it! I love all foods and this is definately a dream’s place for chefs!!

  3. Belinda

    I have been to RM 7 years in a row and love everything about it… Tulum and all… Would love to visit while Taste of Playa is going on!!!!

  4. Gale

    Taste of Playa offers so many great choices to sample the wonderful array of cusine that is available to Playa Del Carmen visitors! Highly recommended!

  5. Scott Allen

    Tulum and the Riviera Maya has a magical rhythm to it, a certain “something” that cannot be described to someone who has never been. Once you go and have been infected by its blue waters it gets in your soul. You will find yourself spreading the gospel of the area to everyone you meet.

    I have never been to a Taste of Playa, but I would sure love to make it sometime.

    Scott Allen

  6. Sue-Helen

    I’ve heard so much about Playa del Carmen, I wish I was there to enjoy the culture, rich foods, and this event!

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